Body Image and Eating Disorders
Body image is a widespread preoccupation, leading to the potential for a significant increase in negative body image. Poor body image increases the risk for extreme weight/body control behaviors. Our research in this area includes:
- mapping the development of body image issues and obesogenic risk factors in childhood, adolescence and adulthood, in both females and males
- understanding body image disturbances and unhealthy body change behaviours (e.g. excessive exercise, steroid use etc.) among males
- exploring cross-cultural determinants of, and interplay between, negative body image, obesity and mental health
- developing and evaluating intervention and prevention programs for body image concerns and obesity for males and females at critical stages of the lifespan
- evaluating conceptual models of the predictors and consequences of body image concerns in at-risk groups, such as pregnant women
Lina Ricciardelli is a Professor of Health Psychology and Developmental Psychology at Deakin where she has been for over twenty years. Currently based at the Burwood campus she is involved in the studies of health risk behaviours among adolescents and children as they relate to body image and eating patterns.
Along with her colleagues, Lina is working on projects to change the current focus from negative body image, to one that fosters positive dimensions and physical activity. The impact of social media has become a key component in how adolescents and children see themselves, and so Lina seeks to find ways to promote well-being and healthy lifestyles.
As well as creating positive change, Lina and her 4th year students branched out into looking at culture and body image. In their studies of men from an Indian and Chinese background they showed that males from a cultural minority are indeed more susceptible to negative body image influences. In her other work with researchers from Sweden, Britain and the United States, Lina found gender role stereotypes and masculine norms are consistent across the four countries.
An important aspect of her research is finding ways to address body image and eating problems. Lina has been working nationally and internationally to develop prevention programs for adolescent eating disorders. These early intervention procedures can even be a part of just visiting a GP.
Her recent book is a fitting culmination of her decades of hard work – ‘Adolescents and Body Image: From Development to Preventing Dissatisfaction’ is due out late 2015.
Dr. Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz is an Associate Professor at the Deakin Burwood campus where he has been since 2009. He is current Director of the Data Science Unit, Course Chair for H664, and co-founder of Deakin University’s Experience Sampling Method (ESM) research interest group (led by Dr Ben Richardson).
The Data Science Unit is a part of Deakin’s Strategic Research Centre for Social and Early Emotional Development (SEED SRC). The Unit’s goal is to facilitate research by ensuring that proposed study designs are appropriate, as is the post-research analysis and write-up. Matthew also helps by reviewing projects before they start, offering consulting help, and various professional development workshops related to statistical design and analysis. In turn, it is intended that these endeavours will produce an overall increase in the quality of research output within the School.
Matthew was a PhD student at Deakin in the area of body image and disordered eating, and his interest in this area has continued into his research today. For the past five years, he has been working in close partnership with Dr Ben Richardson (also within the School of Psychology), looking at monitoring various psychological conditions including depression, negative body image and binge eating through smartphone app technology. The information gained from this research indicates that these apps can be used to decrease the onset and severity of these symptoms. As well as this, these apps can track when the events are going to get worse, and even know when they might occur ahead of time and suggest engaging in a support activity. In this way, the apps can act as a more immediate and personalised intervention or treatment resource. This has been trialled already with a depression support app called BlueWatch, which has generated positive outcomes on two fronts. The first is the large number of participants who have proven that there is a clear interest in such an app, and the feedback on the app itself, which is that it’s engaging and easy to use.
School of Psychology
Deputy Head of School
School of Psychology